A report into Haslar Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in Portsmouth has shown that while conditions in the centre have improved over the last two years, there has been no progress on immigration casework and the welfare of vulnerable detainees, including young people and torture survivors, has been put at risk.
The report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons followed an unannounced inspection of the secure facility near Portsmouth. At its last inspection in 2009, it was found that a lack of investment in the centre had left it with some of the worst accommodation in the immigration estate.
This follow-up visit found a more decent and secure living environment for people detained there, but that none of recommendations on immigration casework – central to a detainee’s predicament – had been achieved by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). In particular procedures to safeguard the most vulnerable detainees, those who might be children and those who might not be fit to be detained including torture victims, were not robust. In one case, UKBA caseworkers did not respond promptly to new evidence to support a young person’s age dispute case – he was subsequently found to be a child and had therefore been detained unnecessarily.
Judith Dennis, Advocacy Officer at the Refugee Council:
“While we are pleased the conditions at Haslar Removal Centre have slightly improved, it is unacceptable that the welfare of vulnerable detainees, including young people and torture survivors, is being jeopardised. If the UKBA must detain asylum seekers, it is essential that detainees are treated fairly and humanely at all times, and that their cases are reviewed regularly, particularly if children are being held there unnecessarily.”